Stupid Media Spin on Obama I: The New York Times Editorial Board

posted at 9:25 am on April 30, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

When major political events occur, half of the fun is checking out how various media organs react to it. After Barack Obama finally admitted what everyone else had already concluded — that his friend and pastor for 20 years was a racially-divisive demagogue — I expected some gale-force spinning from media outlets that had previously busied themselves carrying Obama’s water. Media anthropologists know to look at the New York Times first, and its editorial board did not disappoint. They earn themselves the Captain Louis Renault award along with Obama for being shocked, shocked! at Jeremiah Wright’s rhetoric this week:

Last month, Mr. Obama delivered a speech in which he said he disapproved of Mr. Wright’s racially charged comments but said that the pastor still played an important role in his spiritual life.

It was a distinction we were not sure would sit well with many voters. But what mattered more was the speech’s powerful commentary on the state of race relations in this country. We hoped it would open the door to a serious, healthy and much-needed discussion on race.

Mr. Wright has not let that happen. In the last few days, in a series of shocking appearances, he embraced the Rev. Louis Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism. He said the government manufactured the AIDS virus to kill blacks. He suggested that America was guilty of “terrorism” and so had brought the 9/11 attacks on itself.

Why the shock? Wright has made these allegations for years. The 9/11 allegations go all the way back to 9/16/01, Wright’s first sermon after the terrorist attacks that killed 3,000 Americans. The HIV/genocide accusations come from a speech Wright has given on many occasions, and he also includes the tired conspiracy theory that the CIA introduced crack cocaine into the US to undermine the black community. Wright honored Farrakhan in 2007 through Trinity United Church, and both then and now tried to assign Farrakhan’s well-established anti-Semitism as opposition to Israel, as if that made much difference at all anyway.

The NYT’s editors must have taken a Rip Van Winkel nap for the last 20 months, or so they must expect us to believe. What did they think caused the controversy in the first place? Wright’s prior rhetoric from the pulpit in the church where Obama brings his family to worship generated the questions about Obama’s judgment, the one quality he wants voters to consider when deciding between himself and his competitors.

Both Obama and the NYT want this to look like it became an issue only because Wright spoke this week and rehashed what he’s been saying from the Trinity pulpit for years. Why? If they can set the bar that low, it gets both Obama and the NYT editors off the hook for not acknowledging what the rest of the nation had figured out from Wright’s long history of demagoguery.

Had Wright been non-controversial for the last twenty years and suddenly dropped these bombs on the campaign, then the NYT/Obama argument would be perfectly understandable. However, the notion that both of them just awakened to the true nature of Wright’s lunacy is risible in the extreme. It’s a self-serving dodge, and a transparent one at that.


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Here’s hoping most of the American people have better eyes. Both Democrats have destroyed themselves by revealing who they really are.

kc8ukw on April 30, 2008 at 9:30 AM

As I commented here:

As if the McCain ‘embraced’ Hagee, or as if he didn’t “try hard enough” to stop the NC ad, as if these were in any way comparable to Obambi’s 20-year love affair with Rev. Wrong—and as if the whole business was about ‘race’ anyway.

Needless to say, Michelle Malkin’s NRO piece says exactly what needs to be said (linked in the article list at top).

MrLynn on April 30, 2008 at 9:31 AM

We hoped it would open the door to a serious, healthy and much-needed discussion on race.

Mr. Wright has not let that happen

As a Chicagoan, Wright nows from clout.

mymanpotsandpans on April 30, 2008 at 9:31 AM

He also knows from clout.

mymanpotsandpans on April 30, 2008 at 9:31 AM

After Barack Obama finally admitted what everyone else had already concluded — that his friend and pastor for 20 years was a racially-divisive demagogue….

Are Obama’s chickens coming home to roost?

Yakko77 on April 30, 2008 at 9:32 AM

Ed, you make way too much sense for the NYT to follow, sorry–they won’t get it.

The first step to tackling any problem is first admitting you have one. Not happening here.

Bob's Kid on April 30, 2008 at 9:33 AM

Obambi slapped Rev. Wright pretty hard yesterday. I can’t help wondering if the spanking Wright received might fuel the flames of battle between these two and take the discourse to the point where Wright reveals some devastating dirt on Obambi.

Stay tuned.

fogw on April 30, 2008 at 9:35 AM

LOL

Ed, what a great caption!

I’ve written that Obama will take us all to hell
if he could, and leave us there.

maverick muse on April 30, 2008 at 9:35 AM

He suggested that America was guilty of “terrorism” and so had brought the 9/11 attacks on itself.

You mean the NYT doesn’t believe this to be true? Well, in that case, color me shocked, shocked.

amkun on April 30, 2008 at 9:35 AM

In the last few days, in a series of shocking appearances, he embraced the Rev. Louis Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism

Reporting has to be honest or it’s propaganda. There is no middle ground. This guy has been an anti semitic, anti white bigot a long long time and we all know it. So the slimes circ rate will continue to plunge, and thats a good thing.

dogsoldier on April 30, 2008 at 9:36 AM

Conspicuously absent from the NYT quote is the title Reverend, as Wright wishes to be called. I call him Irreverent.

jgapinoy on April 30, 2008 at 9:36 AM

I’ve got an idea. Let’s put Wright, the peanut farmer and the NYT editorial board on a beautiful tropical island. Then let’s nuke it.

Longhorn Six on April 30, 2008 at 9:41 AM

Any wonder why the NYTimes circulation numbers continue to decline so much, especially compared to the WSJ and USA Today?

rbj on April 30, 2008 at 9:46 AM

Exactly, Ed. The Times is trying to wiggle off of the hook of journalistic malfeasance. They have been advocates for Obama and Wright, not journalists, and now they want to express shock at how Wright has changed before their very eyes into some sort of racist demagogue.

Helloooo!

Jaibones on April 30, 2008 at 9:51 AM

Maybe Obama works the nursery at church?

The NYT is sacrificing its own legacy to scratch a very human itch of self satisfaction. Sounds like something that happened in the White House featuring cigars.

Hening on April 30, 2008 at 9:52 AM

Ed,

Look at this post from one of your other 13,000 Wright posts (really, you can rest easy… I can guarantee you Wright will not win the nomination).

I had a conversation yesterday with a former co-worker who attended Wright’s church in Chicago over a period of five years. She said she went there and enjoyed the hour long Sunday service and knew it was a good congregation for mixing with the Chicago community and the church had a reputation of putting out an uplifting service on a Sunday. She was shocked by the excerpts which have been replaying over the last several weeks and very shocked by Wright’s most recent outings. She said it was the complete opposite of what was the routine in his services that she attended and she is also really upset at what Wright appears to be adhering to these days. In light of his most recent appearances she offers no defense… only shock and a feeling that the guy is off his rocker or trying to sell something. She said the sermons were really nice that she attended and most about love and Jesus… she tells me that the only racial content of his sermons was how black men need to stand up and be the cornerstone of families. I have no reason to doubt her and I am willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt on Wright. Obama has been consistent in not incorporating any of Wright’s bitterness or bile in his own rhetoric. Wright really is quite beyond the pale now… I think Obama did a good job of making his own views clear. It is also clear that Wright appears to want to Sabotage Obama’s campaign. Obama does have problems (like the other two candidates) but I am wiling to give him a pass on the Wright issue. He should be held accountable for Wright being a dick head.

lexhamfox on April 30, 2008 at 2:43 AM

Now, I believe that last line should have “NOT” in there.

You have painted of Wright giving firey anti-American and racist sermons for the past 20 years. You use SNIPPETS of his sermons over the past 20 years to conclude that Obama’s realtionship with Wright must be a bad thing. Lexhamfox’s post isn’t the first I’ve seen saying Wright’s usual sermons were nothing like the snippet endlessly repeated and talked about by you. YOU HAVE NOT GIVEN ANY CREDIT OF ATTENTION TO THE SUBSTANCE OF WRIGHT’S WORK AT THE LEADER OF THAT CHURCH. You’ve distorted reality to fit your political agenda.

Worst of all, you continue to make an issue of it. I can’t recall another person who wasn’t running for president himself getting this kind of attention during a presidential campain — at least one who hadn’t slept with one of the candidates.

Even if there was something to be drawn about Obama from his relationship to Wright, whatever importance or substance that had has been overshadowed by the inordamate attention and weight it’s been given in context of this election. It’s quite absurd.

You can keep going until November making comments like this:

Why the shock? Wright has made these allegations for years. The 9/11 allegations go all the way back to 9/16/01, Wright’s first sermon after the terrorist attacks that killed 3,000 Americans. The HIV/genocide accusations come from a speech Wright has given on many occasions, and he also includes the tired conspiracy theory that the CIA introduced crack cocaine into the US to undermine the black community.

But Obama has repudiated these comments from the start. But, to his credit, he stood by Wright because of the substance of their relationship and the good that WRight has done. Their relationship didn’t have anything to do with those comments.

But now that Wright has taken jabs at Obama’s honesty and continued to make these controverial remarks that Obama has denounced (with Wright knowing full well it would hurt his campaign), Obama got pissed and cut ties. Yesterday’s speech may have been a political move, but it was one bourne out of genuine anger at his friend it seems. I think he felt betrayed. So Wright is gone.

No matter how you slice it, some very controversial remarks the Obama’s pastor made in the past do not deserve the amount of attention or weight you’ve given it. You’ve also reported on it in a dishonest manner in my opinion — at least in a much WORSE way than you accuse the NYTimes of in reporting on McCain. Which, I’m sorry to say, makes you a hypocrite.

Tom_Shipley on April 30, 2008 at 9:52 AM

But Obama has repudiated these comments from the start. But, to his credit, he stood by Wright because of the substance of their relationship and the good that WRight has done.
Tom_Shipley on April 30, 2008 at 9:52 AM

It is the autobahns, man. Look at the autobahns. That Hitler fella wasn’t all bad. He never hurt my kids. He brought the interstate to the world, which has benefited billions. I judge a man on the whole of his accomplishments and not cherry pick the bad things.

Limerick on April 30, 2008 at 10:02 AM

I’ve got an idea. Let’s put Wright, the peanut farmer and the NYT editorial board on a beautiful tropical island. Then let’s nuke it.

Longhorn Six on April 30, 2008 at 9:41 AM

And now for the obligatory “It’s the only way to be sure.”

ncc770 on April 30, 2008 at 10:04 AM

RACISTS!!!!

WisCon on April 30, 2008 at 10:06 AM

Tom_Shipley on April 30, 2008 at 9:52 AM

If I killed three guys, could I defend myself by pointing to the rest of the people in my town whom I helped and whom I did NOT kill?

petefrt on April 30, 2008 at 10:08 AM

The Editors at the Times, evidently, simply didn’t know that Jerry Wright had, for years, been spewing Anti-American, Anti-Whitey vitriol to his Congregation.

Yet, they all know, by heart, every line in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Fabulous.

there it is on April 30, 2008 at 10:09 AM

But Obama has repudiated these comments from the start. But, to his credit, he stood by Wright because of the substance of their relationship and the good that WRight has done. Their relationship didn’t have anything to do with those comments.

Tom_Shipley on April 30, 2008 at 9:52 AM

Then why did Mrs. Barry Obama’s comments about finally feeling good to be an American sound like she was indoctrinated and programmed by Rev. Wright?

fogw on April 30, 2008 at 10:11 AM

the pastor still played an important role in his spiritual life.

Wright’s playing a role in fomenting hatred is an important part of Obama’s spritual life?

drjohn on April 30, 2008 at 10:13 AM

Trying the Sgt. Schultz defense at the NY Times:

I know nothing!… nothing!!!

This should give their circulation a shot.

Not in the arm, but in the head.

(Notoriously empty, like Obama’s suit.)

As usual.

profitsbeard on April 30, 2008 at 10:14 AM

the good that WRight has done.

Would someone please show me the “Good” that Wright has done?

I mean, other than procure a mansion for his retirement, that is.

drjohn on April 30, 2008 at 10:15 AM

His wife’s bitter comments, his ties with anti-American radicals, his 20 years with Wright — Obama may have been able to deflect any one of these issues. But trouble is, they all fit neatly together, confirming and reinforcing each other, to paint Obama as something sharply different from the picture he would paint of himself.

petefrt on April 30, 2008 at 10:37 AM

It is an injustice, a legacy of the racist threads of this nation’s history, but prominent African-Americans are regularly called upon to explain or repudiate what other black Americans have to say, while white public figures are rarely, if ever, handed that burden.

To borrow from Michelle Malkin, what a load of pure unadulterated horse manure. What are they talking about? When does this happen? Prominent blacks having to repudiate rap musicians? Someone repudiating Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson? Bill Cosby repudiating a culture that encourages drop outs? I’m drawing a blank here and would welcome some examples.

Secondly, we’re talking about one of Barry’s best buddies here, not someone he barely knows or is not personally acquainted with.

Third, what about Trent Lott and Don Imus?

Buy Danish on April 30, 2008 at 10:40 AM

Tom, why do you defend a “pastor” that Obama, NYT, and WashPo have decided is a racist?

faraway on April 30, 2008 at 10:47 AM

Tom_Shipley on April 30, 2008 at 9:52 AM

Take another toke, man. It’ll be alright.

Et tu Brute on April 30, 2008 at 10:49 AM

Don’t judge him on his reverand, his wife, his friends, nor his mis-steps in handling a minor crisis. No, judge him on his vows of change, hope, and complete lack of experience.

jukin on April 30, 2008 at 10:52 AM

The Times not only think the bitter, gun-owning Bible-thumpers in flyover country are stupid, they think their the bulk of their own readers are too stupid to grasp what Wright was all about before Monday, and will therefore fall for the paper’s “shocked” editorial and act as if this was as big a surprise as finding out on Monday that Roger Clemens had been diddling a 15-year-old back in the early 1990s.

The interesting part of this editorial — other then its comedy relief value — is how it tries towards the end to drag John McCain into this mess, but avoids taking any shots at Hillary Clinton, a candidate the paper was savaging just a week ago on the same page. The fact that they only used McCain’s connection with Hagee in a lame attempt to use the “but he did it, too” defense shows that the geniuses over at 40th and Eighth may be hedging their bets now on an Obama nomination, and don’t want to take any more shots at Hillary right now, just in case Barak goes into free-fall and she ended up with the nomination.

jon1979 on April 30, 2008 at 10:55 AM

The NYT really must be dense or in a partisan induced coma. What a joke.

Dash on April 30, 2008 at 10:56 AM

The W. Post or CNN should win an award for “Best saving attempt of a Presidential Campaign.” Which of the two should win the award? Do you have any other nominees for this prestigious award? Lets see, the New York Times? MSNBC? Bill Mo of public tv? Who else do you think should vie for this award?

Travis1 on April 30, 2008 at 11:10 AM

Tom_Shipley on April 30, 2008 at 9:52 AM

LOL, Tom reminds me of the John Cleese character in the classic Monty Python “Argument Clinic” sketch. He has to say the exact opposite of what his counterpart is saying, or else he’s irrelevant.

Of course, Ship, if Obama were the Republican candidate, Rev. Wright and his shenanigans would be totally relevant and worthy of comment. Correct?

Del Dolemonte on April 30, 2008 at 11:13 AM

The NYT is like the Big Bang for Dem talking points. They are the Genesis. The points don’t have to make sense, they just have to be repeated.

faraway on April 30, 2008 at 11:14 AM

Travis, Soledad OBrian gets the Nobel Peace Prize for liberal shutzpah for saying Wright’s speech on left/right brains was a “home run”, “hilarious”.

That even shocked me.

faraway on April 30, 2008 at 11:17 AM

Del,

I think McCain and HaGee has received about the right amount of coverage from the media and blogs. It’s a very similar situation. McCain sought this guy’s endorsement. In the past, Hagee has made some very controversial and out-right bigoted comments.

But no one has mounted the kind of dishonest and distracting campaign to define McCain with a select few of Hagee’s comments… you know why? Because McCain IS NOT HAGEE. People don’t believe McCain is an anti-catholic bigot because he’s never given any reason to think that and he’s denounced Hagees comments about catholics.

With the right effort and dedication, the McCain/Hagee connection could have been made to be a similar distraction as the Obama/Wright thing has been. It still could be. I hope it doesn’t.

Tom_Shipley on April 30, 2008 at 11:25 AM

Tom_Shipley on April 30, 2008 at 11:25 AM

Do you work for CNN?

Travis1 on April 30, 2008 at 11:42 AM

Tom, equating McCain’s five-day courtship of Hagee in search of an endorsement with Obama’s 20-year relationship with Wright is going to take enough spinning to lower your g-forces to zero-gravity levels, but good luck trying it.

jon1979 on April 30, 2008 at 11:50 AM

Was Hagee Johnny Mac’s pastor for 20 years?

So far, about the only person I see whining about Hagee is Glenn Greenwald.

Del Dolemonte on April 30, 2008 at 12:14 PM

No, he wasn’t McCain’s minister for 20 years. But if people are really concerned about Wright and Obama’s relationship, they would weigh the words of other parishioners that echo Obama’s that Wright’s sermons were normally not as outrageous as the snippets that keep getting repeated ad naseum on cable news and right-wing blogs.

If they were after the truth, instead of acting on their own political agenda, they would give these kind of comments their due.

The bottom line is that Ed is not interested in the reality of this situation… just in how it can make Obama look bad. For someone who attacks the “liberal” media of claims of doing just this, it’s the ultimate form of hypocrisy.

If Ed is such a champion of objectivity, he should follow his own advice.

Tom_Shipley on April 30, 2008 at 12:19 PM

Tom_S-

…how it can make Obama look bad.

Obama’s doing a good enough job making himself “look bad”
(and not in the Black sense of bad) without Ed M. needing to do anything but xerox Barry’s dumb ass and pathetic spinning.

profitsbeard on April 30, 2008 at 12:28 PM

But if people are really concerned about Wright and Obama’s relationship, they would weigh the words of other parishioners that echo Obama’s that Wright’s sermons were normally not as outrageous as the snippets that keep getting repeated ad naseum on cable news and right-wing blogs.

Tom_Shipley on April 30, 2008 at 12:19 PM

Oh, we get it now. Let’s take the words of other parishioners, who never would be protective of the pastor who spews racial hatred behind the closed doors of their church.

One has to wonder, if these outrageous snippets were so rare, why did the good reverend choose to put those particular offensive tirades on DVDs and make them available for sale to the public? Seems to me that’s evidence he wanted his bigotry out there in the public domain …. and he was proud of it.

Barry was the only one who never saw what was going on.

Yeh. Sure.

fogw on April 30, 2008 at 12:40 PM

Tom_Shipley on April 30, 2008 at 9:52 AM

OK Tom,
I’ll spell it out for you.
Obama and Wright are ONE AND THE SAME.
Same beliefs. Same distorted biblical twisting, whites are the problem, help blacks (and only blacks), America is bad, America is a terrorist country, blah, blah…HATE AMERICA CRAP.
They are a mirror image.
Obama is just a young Wright with hope to change America, ALL OF AMERICA, to black liberation theology and its marxist plus racist twisting.
Obama surrounded himself, for decades, with others that hated AMERICA just the same as he and wright DO YET TODAY. They all just thought , no, they BELIEVED that more people thought as they did….whoooops.
.
Not so, not here.
.
Maybe in Syria.

shooter on April 30, 2008 at 1:19 PM

One has to wonder, if these outrageous snippets were so rare, why did the good reverend choose to put those particular offensive tirades on DVDs and make them available for sale to the public?

fogw on April 30, 2008 at 12:40 PM

And as I recall, one of the DVDs, which had some of the most inflammatory remarks, was marketed as a “Best Of”.

As for the parishioners, here’s what an Obama supporter wrote recently in the Puffington Host:

“If the parishioners of Trinity United Church were not buzzing about Reverend Wright’s post 9/11 comments, then it could only seem to be because those comments were not out of character with what he preached from the pulpit many times before. In that case, I have to wonder if it is really possible for the Obamas to have been parishioners there — by 9/11 they were there more than a decade — and not to have known very clearly how radical Wright’s views were. If, on the other hand, parishioners were shocked by Wright’s vitriol only days after more than 3,000 Americans had been killed by terrorists, they would have talked about it incessantly. Barack — a sitting Illinois State Senator — would have been one of the first to hear about it.

Can’t you imagine the call or conversation? “Barack, you aren’t going to believe what Revered Wright said yesterday at the church. You should be ready with a comment if someone from the press calls you up.”

But Barack now claims he never heard about any of this until after he began his run for the presidency, in February, 20007.

And even if Barack is correct — and I desperately want to believe him — then it still does not explain why, when he learned in 2007 of Wright’s fringe comments about 9/11 and other subjects, the campaign did not then disassociate itself from the Reverend. Wright was not removed from the campaign’s Spiritual Advisory Committee until two days ago, and it appears likely that nothing would have been done had this story not broken nationally.

Come on, Barack. I’m backing you because you are not ‘one of them.’ You have inspired me and millions of others because you are not a typical politician. You tell it like it is, don’t fudge the facts, and don’t dodge and weave with clever words to avoid uncomfortable truths.

Tell it straight. Was Reverend Wright so radical that his post 9/11 comments did not cause a stir at the Church, and you never learned about them until 2007, nearly 6 years later? Why, when you did learn about them, did you not ask Revered Wright to step down from his role in your campaign?

Give us the plain truth. You won’t lose us by being brutally honest. You only risk shaking our faith in you if you seem like so many other politicians that crowd the field”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gerald-posner/reverend-wright-and-barac_b_91693.html

Del Dolemonte on April 30, 2008 at 1:30 PM

Come on, Barack. I’m backing you because you are not ‘one of them.’
Del Dolemonte on April 30, 2008 at 1:30 PM

You got taken for a ride, Del. Yes. He is one of them.

As you can plainly see now, not only is Mubarack NOT different than the others, he is ALSO deficient.

Et tu Brute on April 30, 2008 at 2:26 PM

I didn’t get taken for a ride. The guy I quoted did.

Del Dolemonte on April 30, 2008 at 3:10 PM

As for the parishioners, here’s what an Obama supporter wrote recently in the Puffington Host:
Del Dolemonte on April 30, 2008 at 1:30 PM

You are correct sir.

Et tu Brute on April 30, 2008 at 3:59 PM

Ed—

I thought I saw a post from you on the Washington Post editorial, earlier today (“Stupid Media Spin on Obama II”). Now I can’t find it.

Was I dreaming?

MrLynn on April 30, 2008 at 4:21 PM